PH allots more funds for Yolanda rehab

By Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star

Posted at Dec 03 2014 08:13 AM | Updated as of Dec 03 2014 04:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The rehabilitation of provinces hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas got the lion’s share of the reduced P22.4-billion supplemental budget Malacañang is asking from Congress, where P870 million was removed from the original P23.3-billion funding request last month.

Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said the amended proposed budget “will still mainly support priority initiatives, with the massive Yolanda reconstruction and rehabilitation program” getting P9.5 billion.

This is on top of the P167-billion allocation the administration of President Aquino vows to pour in to the government’s efforts to build back better communities for the typhoon victims, and separate from foreign donations from all over the world.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) came up with the adjusted budget request following consultation with leaders of the House of Representatives, who pointed out the allocations have been made in this and next year’s national budget.

“The supplemental budget will provide appropriations for urgent and important projects that are not funded under the 2014 national budget, as well as ensure sufficient support for crucial development initiatives like the post-Yolanda rehabilitation,” Abad said.

“We are always open to recommendations made by Congress. As such, we have made adjustments in the proposed supplemental budget to reflect the inputs suggested by the House of Representatives,” he added.

Abad also said the updated supplemental budget will augment the 2014 E-Government Fund for the Enterprise Information Systems Plan of the Supreme Court by P715 million.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will be able to carry the funding requirements within its current budget for key infrastructure projects to help the Philippines prepare for hosting the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next year.

It will also “help ensure 100-percent rehabilitation and installation of the national bridges by the end of 2015.”

“As such, the appropriation for these projects will not be included in the proposed supplemental budget,” Abad said.

“Even with available funds from the national treasury to finish these projects, the supplemental budget will need the proper legislation in compliance with the law. That is why we urge Congress for the timely passage of this budget so that we can allocate funds accordingly and complete these projects as soon as possible,” he added.

Fine-tuning the budget

The House of Representatives and the Senate are scheduled to begin finalizing the proposed P2.606-trillion 2015 national budget today.

“We agreed to have initial meetings tomorrow and on Thursday,” Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III said.

Albano was referring to members of the bicameral conference committee that will reconcile the two chambers’ divergent versions of next year’s budget. – With Jess Diaz, Christina Mendez, Zinnia dela Peña

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